EUROPEAN BONSAI ASSOCIATION GOES TO GERMANY
RATINGEN, OCTOBER 2011

Francois Jeker's demo tree
Francois Jeker's demo tree
Francois proud of his achievement.
Francois proud of his achievement.
Serge Clemence completed demonstration tree.
Serge Clemence completed demonstration tree.
Christian Przyblski demonstration.
Christian Przyblski demonstration.
New Talent Competition trees.
New Talent Competition trees.
New Talent competitors at work.
New Talent competitors at work.
Carl Hawkins from UK with his tree.
Carl Hawkins from UK with his tree.
Carl at work.
Carl at work.
Carl still working.
Carl still working.
Carl's resulting tree.
Carl's resulting tree.
New Talent winning tree Switzerland.
New Talent winning tree Switzerland.
The venue for the exhibition.
The venue for the exhibition.
Out and around a delightful city.
Out and around a delightful city.
Juniperus communis
Juniperus communis
Juniperus rigida
Juniperus rigida
Pinus mugo, winner of major awards, Hartmut Munchenbach small.
Pinus mugo, winner of major awards, Hartmut Munchenbach small.
Pinus
Pinus
(Click on a number button to freeze image)

Like the Olympic Games, European bonsai travels around Europe, each year holding its annual Congress in a different hosting country. This year it is Germany at the House of Sport in Ratingen near Düsseldorf. Next year it will be at Ljubljana, Slovenia, the following year France, followed in 2014 by Poland. What an opportunity to see some very beautiful parts of Europe let alone quite amazing bonsai and suiseki.

The small town of Ratingen is located in what many would consider a part of the German heavy industrial heartland, incorporating the cities of Duisberg, Essen and Düsseldorf. Today however, this region is now dubbed ‘Helicon Valley’ because of its leadership in energy research and e-commerce as well as being a centre of culture and the arts.

Ratingen itself is a quiet and neat town in the midst of this area and over a three day period was to act as host to the 28th European Bonsai Association Congress, held in conjunction with the national bonsai organisation of Germany, Bonsai Club Deutschland and the European Suiseki Association.

The event, on the hottest September/October weekend since records began, was scheduled to be a success before it started. With a proven record for efficient organisation and high quality events, Bonsai Club Deutschland could not fail.

Staged in a glass palace, albeit a sports centre, this venue had all the feel of an Exhibition Centre and very little obvious link to sports. It possessed great natural lighting, enormous three-storey high exhibition area as well as large areas for demonstrations and traders – it was a venue having virtually everything going for it.

Over 200 bonsai formed the exhibition, these being trees from the European Bonsai Association member countries together with a large display from the members of Bonsai Club Deutschland. There was adequate space to view and photograph; the standard of trees was high and the clear natural light made viewing a pleasure. As a competitive exhibition, it gave the judges, Marc Noelanders (Belgium) and Malcolm Hughes (United Kingdom) many a headache, there being so many good trees to choose from.

The final choices given Awards of Excellence were to:

Hartmut Münchenbach: 
Pinus mugo
Wlodzimierz Pietraszco:
Juniperus communis
Georg Reinhard: 
Pinus uncinata
Phillippe Sikora:
Prunus mahaleb
Bruno Wijman: 
Pinus mugo
Rijn Bécude:
Juniperus communis 

The demonstrations were almost continuous from the end of the opening ceremony on the Friday through to the close of the event late on the Sunday afternoon. There were many first class artists including Francoise Jeker (France), Serge Clémence (Switzerland), Aurelio Decapitani (Italy), and Othmar Auer, all from around Europe, as well as Thomas Elias from the U.S.A. The demonstrators from Germany who participated reads like a ‘who’s who’ of German bonsai talent and included Werner Busch, Udo Fischer, Hartmut Münchenbach, Walter Pall, Christian Przybyiski, Jurgen Zaar and Rolf Steiner, almost all of whom had extraordinarily high quality collected material from the mountains of Europe to work on.

A major feature of the event was the finals of the European ‘New Talent Competition’.  Sixteen enthusiastic finalists from different European member countries kept their audience entranced over a four hour period. The competitors worked on virtually identical Juniperus chiniensis brought over from Japan – the results were sixteen uniquely different trees ranging from informal upright to semi-cascade styles. The quality of some of the bonsai produced again made judging difficult; the awards for the best created trees were presented at the Gala Dinner on the Saturday evening, the overall winner being Walter Schmutz, representing Switzerland. Carl Hawkins from the UK put on an excellent performance with his tree. As the winner of the UK heats he was assisted by FOBBS in attending the event to representing the UK. His resulting tree was a credit to him and he came a well justified fifth in very strong competition.